US 7577457 B2
Described is a communication system including mobile communication devices. In the described system, the mobile devices may be wrist-worn watches such as are in common use today, except that the watches are specially configured to receive data in a “broadcast” mode and transmit and/or receive data in a “localcast” mode. The localcast mode includes the ability to transmit and receive data in a peer-to-peer fashion, allowing mobile devices to communicate directly with each other. The ability to combine two of these communication modes in a small, integrated and hence inexpensive and low-power package provides many advantages over existing personal communication device solutions.
1. A mobile device, comprising:
a real-time component comprising:
a system timing function,
a real-time event dispatching function, and
a digital radio that is configured to receive information content in a localcast-mode and in a broadcast-mode, and to transmit information content in a localcast-mode; wherein the broadcast mode operates on a subcarrier of a wide area transmitting channel and the localcast mode operates on a directly modulated main channel that is different from the wide area transmitting channel at which the broadcast mode operates;
a digital control and processing circuit that generates receive commands in response to tracking information received on broadcast mode such that the tracking information is received on a different channel than the mobile device transmits on, wherein the receive commands describe a receive frequency, antenna tuning parameters, and a duration of capture time;
an antenna assembly configured to be tuned in response to the receive commands;
a microcomputer assembly;
a random access memory;
a nonvolatile memory; and
a microprocessor-controlled user interface.
2. The mobile device in
3. The mobile device in
4. The mobile device in
5. The mobile device in
6. The mobile device in
7. The mobile device in
8. The mobile device in
9. A mobile device, comprising:
means for receiving a signal that is arranged to receive a first broadcast signal from a broadcast transmitter when the mobile device is in a broadcast mode, is arranged to receive a first localcast signal from a localcast transmitter when the mobile device is in a localcast mode, is arranged to generate receive commands in response to tracking information received when the device is in the broadcast mode such that the tracking information is received on a different channel than the mobile device transmits on, wherein the receive commands describe a receive frequency, antenna tuning parameters, and a duration of capture time, and is arranged to be tuned in response to the receive commands; and
means for transmitting a signal that is arranged to transmit information from the mobile device when the device is in the localcast mode.
10. The mobile device in
11. The mobile device in
12. The mobile device in
13. The mobile device in
14. The mobile device in
15. A mobile device, comprising:
a digital processing circuit that generates receive commands in response to received tracking information received when the device is in a broadcast mode such that the tracking information is received on a different channel than the mobile device transmits on, wherein the receive commands describe a receive frequency and a duration of capture time;
an antenna assembly configured to be tuned in response to the receive commands;
a transceiver that is coupled to the antenna assembly, wherein the transceiver is arranged to provide communication over the antenna assembly in one of the broadcast mode and a localcast mode; wherein the broadcast mode operates on a wide area channel and the localcast mode operates on a local area channel that is different from the wide area channel; and
a microcomputer assembly that is coupled to the antenna assembly, wherein the microcomputer assembly is arranged to control operation of the transceiver in both the broadcast mode and the localcast mode.
16. The mobile device in
17. The mobile device in
18. The mobile device in
This application is a divisional of application Ser. No. 10/044,294, filed Oct. 26, 2001, which claims the benefit of U.S. provisional application No. 60/302,831, filed Jul. 3, 2001, which applications are incorporated herein by reference.
As society becomes increasingly mobile, mobile computing devices are enjoying a tidal wave of popularity and growth. Cell phones, wireless PDAs, wireless laptops and other mobile communication devices are making impressive inroads with mainstream customers. Constraining this growth and limiting customer satisfaction, however, is the lack of a truly adequate high-coverage-area, inexpensive, small, battery-efficient wireless communication system. Cellular data-transmit telephony-based solutions are far from power-efficient, and impose (relative) cost and size burdens that make them unusable. Likewise, other attempts to solve these problems have proved equally unsuitable. For instance, a few entities have attempted to make use of mobile devices that receive information over Frequency Modulated (FM) subcarriers. FM subcarriers (also known as “SCA” for Subsidiary Communications Authorization) utilize the available frequencies above FM stereo within the available modulation bandwidth of an FM station. Subcarriers are typically leased by radio stations, subject to FCC or other national regulation.
Some examples of FM subcarrier systems include the QUOTREK system owned and maintained by the Data Broadcast Corporation (DBC) to deliver stock price quotes to a handheld mobile device. However, the QUOTREK system is a single purpose system limited to receiving stock quotes. The system has various other limitations that make it unusable as a mobile computing device. Likewise, the Seiko Corporation implemented an FM subcarrier system wherein short messages were transmitted to a wrist-worn device. However, the hardware and communications scheme used were relatively primitive, resulting in a need for excessive redundancy in message transmission. These and other shortcomings rendered the Seiko system less than acceptable. Similarly, certain paging systems are based on FM subcarrier use, such as the Radio Data System (RDS) or Mobile Broadcasting System (MBS) systems. However, those systems involve short messages transmitted in a broadcast fashion with limited data rates. Unfortunately, an acceptable mobile device solution has eluded those skilled in the art.
The present invention provides a mobile device that includes two wireless communications modes, a wide area mode in which data may be broadcast over a large area and to many mobile devices, and a local area mode in which data is transmitted over a local area. In one embodiment, a broadcast mode is used to broadcast data over a Frequency Modulated (FM) subcarrier system, such as in unused portions of an FM radio stations bandwidth. In addition, a localcast mode is used to transmit information over a relatively short range, such as within an office or on a corporate campus. A mobile device, such as a specially configured watch, receives the transmissions in either the broadcast mode or localcast mode. In alternate embodiments, the mobile device may be operated as a stand-alone paging or messaging subscriber unit, or built into a mobile telephony device such as a cellular telephone. Advantageously, the mobile device is not limited to the use of either a wide area transmission system (such as a cellular network), or a local area transmission system (such as an infrared communication link), but, rather, reaps the benefits of both. A user may take advantage of the local area transmission system to receive information from the user's personal computer or another mobile device. The user may also take advantage of the wide area transmission system to receive information of a more general interest, such as may be transmitted over a broadcast medium, such as stock quotes and the like. Localcast mode is also useful to provide or enhance information transmission in areas where normal broadcasts cannot be received or reception is poor.
In one aspect, the present invention provides a mobile device configured to receive wireless transmissions in both a broadcast mode and a localcast mode. The mobile device is configured to receive broadcast data over an FM subcarrier communication link. The broadcast data is time diverse and includes synchronization information to allow the mobile device to accurately receive the broadcast data. The mobile device is configured to receive localcast data, transmitted by a localcast transmitter, over a locally-unused portion of the FM band. In this way, the mobile device makes use of the same radio electronics to communicate in both broadcast and localcast modes, thereby reducing size and power consumption.
In another aspect, the mobile device is configured to communicate in a peer-to-peer fashion by transmitting information to and receiving information from other mobile devices over a localcast communication link. The mobile device transmits and receives information in a locally-unused FM band. In this way, information may be shared between two or more mobile devices in a manner similar to that of mobile devices and laptops or personal computers communicating over IRDA infrared, without a need for additional communication components or circuitry.
In yet another aspect, the present invention provides a localcast transmitter configured to transmit data over a local area and in a locally-unused portion of the FM band. The localcast transmitter may be connected to a personal computer or the like and configured to transmit data to and receive data from a mobile device.
In still another aspect, the present invention provides a communication system in which a mobile device is in dual-mode communication with the system. In a first (broadcast) mode, information is broadcast over a wide area on a predetermined schedule. A mobile device may be scheduled to receive the broadcast information based on the predetermined schedule. Other information may additionally be transmitted in a second (localcast) mode over a much smaller area. The mobile device is further configured to transmit and receive information over the localcast mode.
The present invention is described in the context of a communication system including mobile communication devices. In the described embodiment, the mobile devices are wrist-worn watches such as are in common use today, except that the watches are specially configured to communicate in both a “broadcast” mode and a “localcast” mode, as is described in greater detail below. The ability to communicate in the two modes provides many advantages over existing personal communication devices, as will become apparent from a reading of the following detailed description. Likewise, minor deviations from the described embodiments will also become apparent without departing from the spirit of the invention.
The disclosed communication system 100 has three main operating modes: a subcarrier broadcast mode (“broadcast”), a localcast mode (“localcast”), and a Peer-to-Peer mode (“Peer-to-Peer”). Although introduced here for the purpose of discussion, each of these modes of operation is described in detail later. The normal operation of the watch 101 is receiving data broadcast via FM subcarrier (e.g., broadcast signal 109). A local direct FM “localcast” receiving mode is also available (e.g., localcast signal 111). Watches may also be set to communicate with nearby watches 121, other mobile devices 119, or even fixed computer systems, one-on-one, in a half-duplex two-way messaging mode as illustrated by localcast signals 117. Lastly, application data can be transferred to the watch during a localcast session. In addition, although described here in the context of a watch-based system, it will be apparent that the teachings of the application have equal applicability to many other mobile devices, such as portable computers, personal digital assistants (PDAs), cellular telephones, and the like. The use of a watch is for illustrative purposes only to simplify the following discussion, and may be used interchangeably with “mobile device.”
The antenna connects to, and is controlled by, the transceiver 209. Transactions between the MCU 211 and the radio components are mediated over the MCU-digital transceiver interface. The components of the watch are housed in a watch-sized enclosure and rely on battery power for operation.
In one embodiment, the MCU 211 includes a 32-bit general purpose CPU, RAM and Flash memory, an LCD display, and user-interface hardware including but not limited to buttons and a rotating bezel. Also included are power and clock circuits. The MCU's function is to control the functionality above OSI level 2, including running operating system, application, presentation, connection and data selection activities, as well as to drive the user I/O devices at the physical level. It interfaces to the rest of the watch through the transceiver 209.
The transceiver 209 generally includes two components, a digital signal processor (DSP) 221 which performs control, scheduling and post-processing tasks for the transceiver, and a real time device (RTD) 223, which includes a digital radio, and performs the functions of system timing, and real-time event dispatching. In one embodiment, the RTD 223 may be a field-programmable gate array (FPGA) plus a discrete analog radio 207. In an alternate embodiment, the functionality of the RTD is distributed between the DSP 221 and the MCU 211, negating the need for a separate RTD device. Alternatively, the DSP may be a DSP core plus sufficient RAM to accomplish required tasks, and may be embedded into a single device with the MCU and its memory and peripherals. The DSP function may also be realized through appropriate CPU instructions given a suitable CPU such as the ARM7 processor family.
The DSP 221 is connected to the MCU 211, and transceiver tasks are commanded by the MCU 211. Since the MCU 211 may not be aware of the actual timing of events on the subcarrier link, substantial interpretation of its commands by the DSP 221 may be necessary. In other words, the MCU 211 may be instructed (through user interaction or control) to retrieve selected data that is known to be broadcast over the communications network. The MCU 211 is configured to resolve the identified and selected data into particular packet numbers or identifiers, such as through the use of a lookup table or similar function. The MCU 211 passes this information to the DSP 221, which in turn resolves the particular packet numbers or identifiers into actual timing upon which to schedule the receiver to begin receiving.
One of the DSP's main tasks is to process data that is received in either the broadcast mode or in the local mode. This processing includes subcarrier phase recovery, baud recovery and/or tracking, compensation for fading effects, demodulation, deinterleaving, channel state estimation and soft-decision convolutional (Viterbi) error-correction. The post-processing of packets occurs when the entire packet has been received. While this occurs immediately after capture in the local mode instance, subcarrier packets are captured in time-separated segments, nominally over the course of a frame. These captured segments are stored in the DSP 221 memory.
Among the DSP 221 control tasks is the translation of requested subcarrier packet numbers to the exact set of broadcast segments that comprise the packet, scheduling the reception of each segment, interleaving this scheduling with other segments from other requested packets, and forming the low-level commands to the RTD 223 to accomplish these tasks. It also tracks each active broadcast station's timing with respect to the RTD's local clock to adjust for clock drift and frame offset among the various stations. The DSP 221 is also responsible for probing and acquiring timing for each actual and potential broadcast station, as requested by the MCU 211.
The tasks of the RTD 223 are two-fold. Its digital section contains system timebases, including the crystal oscillator that provides the system clock to the MCU 211 and DSP 221. The timebase also provides baud and sample timing for transmit and receive operations, start/stop control for radio operation, and controls the periods of clock suspension to the MCU 211 and DSP 221. The other task, is, of course, radio operation.
RTD 223 radio operation includes both subcarrier and local mode reception, and local mode transmission. These tasks use substantial numbers of common elements. The radio 207 receives either subcarrier segments or local mode packets, storing the received, filtered, baseband-converted A-to-D samples in a local RAM. When transmitting in the local mode, this RAM is filled with pre-computed transmit samples by the DSP 221, and these are then used by the RTD 223 to generate the FSK signal for local mode transmission.
The clock to the MCU 211 and DSP 221 is automatically halted during data capture, and restarted immediately thereafter. A warning interrupt is sent to the MCU 211 when the warm-up event triggers, roughly 1 mS prior to capture.
In the subcarrier broadcast mode, the watch transceiver 209 is in a receive-only mode. When commanded by the MCU to receive a broadcast packet, the DSP refers to its tracking information on the station indicated. If no information is present on this station, the receive request is aborted and an error is returned to the MCU. Using this information, the DSP determines the expected arrival times of the 16 segments that comprise the packet. A list of segment receive commands is generated and stored in the DSP memory.
The DSP's dispatch function monitors the list of pending receive segments, which may include segments for several pending packet requests. As the time for a given segment capture approaches, the dispatch function passes a series of commands to the RTD. These commands include the frequency, antenna tuning parameters, duration of capture, and start time. The DSP may enter a sleep state at this time. The RTD's hardware time comparator then triggers each command in sequence. Typically, these commands are “warm-up”, “capture” and “stop.” As the warm-up command is issued, the MCU is simultaneously notified that the clock is going to be stopped. The warm-up process takes roughly 1 mS. When the capture command executes, the clock stops, and resumes when the capture ends with the stop command.
The DSP is interrupted on command completion, and immediately retrieves the captured data. This may include data from several segments if there were contiguous segments requested. The segment data is then stored as a set of signal samples. This requires 4 bytes per source bit of data, plus overhead, or about 300 bytes per segment. Since, in one implementation, the RTD has 2560 bytes of internal storage, this would limit consecutive segment reception to 8 segments. This is less of a limitation that it first appears, since a hashing function separates logical packets (and hence, logical segments) from neighboring ones prior to transmission. Thus, packets are only consecutive by chance, not because they are related in content.
When the last segment of a packet is received, the DSP collects the received segments and begins post-processing the data, which is retrieved as a set of received signal samples. The general flow of operation is this: Timing Recovery, Data Demodulation, and Convolutional Decoding (Error Correction) (with a Viterbi algorithm, in one embodiment). This process may take several milliseconds per packet. The resulting data packet is then placed in a receive block in the DSP memory, along with the receive status information, and the MCU is notified that a new packet is available.
In the disclosed embodiment, broadcast data is divided at the data transmission network center (See
Considering broadcast mode in more depth,
The broadcast transmitter 103, at any given time, has two data arrays that it manages. One is the output FM subcarrier frame image 501 (see in
Due to the nature of the subcarrier frame ECC encoding, input data destined for a given output frame should be available several seconds before the transmission of the subcarrier frame begins. One exception is the “fast packet” data, which need only precede the quarter-frame in which it resides.
The control processor 301 maintains system status, accepts periodic commands and control information from the uplink, makes period reports, calculates and adjusts the local time base to account for timing drift with respect to the uplink host, and controls operational modes with the broadcast transmitter. It also provides a direct RS-232 (DCE) control port 315 for local command and set-up. The control port 315 may also be implemented with any number of conventional protocols, such as, but not limited to RS-422, USB, or Ethernet interfaces.
The precision time base of the signal generator includes a 1-ppm oscillator, which can be trimmed to track the master time-base at the uplink host, with a resolution of 0.01 ppm. Nominally on the hour, each generator will be informed of the correct current time to an accuracy of roughly 100 microseconds, adjusted for transmission delay. The transmission delay may be based upon a known, fixed path (preferred), or may be calculated from a NTP protocol handshake.
The serial I/O controller 305 communicates with the uplink device (likely a satellite transceiver) via communications interface, e.g., an RS-422 serial interface 319. The data format may be HDLC. An SRAM 321 is attached to the serial I/O controller 305 for input buffering.
The encoding engine 309 takes the frames received from the uplink, hashes and places the packets physically within the frame, processes them through the encoding and time-diversity stages, and produces an output image for transmission. This component may be an FPGA. An SRAM 323 is attached to the encoding engine 309 for working storage.
The subcarrier signal generator 313 provides the subcarrier modulator, transmit filter, and amplification functions. It draws from the encoding engine's output data image at the baud rate. The subcarrier signal generator 313 may be implemented in an FPGA, a large sample ROM, and a subcarrier signal generator that comprises, in one embodiment, a digital-analog converter and an analog output filter.
The generator interleaves, (or, equivalently “hashes”), packets to prevent significant amounts of related information from arriving at the mobile device receiver in sequential “on-air” packets. This may be necessary, in some embodiments, because receiver hardware may have limitations for sequential packet reception. It is presumed that the data is presented to the generator in sequential packets. Logical packet order is recreated at the mobile device receiver output; therefore, this hashing process is transparent to the data center and watch. Upon commencement of encoding, the encoding engine reads packets from the I/O block's storage SRAM in the hashed packet order 1205. Access to the I/O block SRAM is shared with the I/O block on a time-slice basis. Packets not marked as complete in the I/O block SRAM, when read, 1207 are considered empty or null and an alternate pattern may be substituted 1209.
As each packet is read in its interleaved order, it is passed through a data whitener, which performs an exclusive-OR 1211 between the data and a whitening pattern. The whitening pattern, in one embodiment, may be a function of a table and the packet number of the packet being processed. The whitened data is then passed 1213 to the convolutional encoder. In one implementation, a ½-rate, constraint-length-9, tail-biting, convolutional encoder may be used. An encoder of this type produces 2 output bits for each input bit, and spreads the information content of each input bit across several subsequent output bit-pairs, with the last input bits coupled to the first input bits in a tail-biting fashion. The output of the encoder, consisting of a pair of bits for each input bit, is then passed as two streams to two separate bit-interleave modules 1215. The bit-interleave modules use the packet number and the bit index to place 1217 the encoded bit streams into segments in the output frame image SRAM. In one implementation, the bit-interleavers are simple modular adders that transpose one bit position to another, and are configured so that as few related encoder-output bits as possible reside in the same output segment. One method is to rotate the encoder bits linearly through the 16 segments, so that the 17th bit out the encoder will be the second bit into the first segment, and the 18th bit out will be the second bit into the second segment, and so forth. This process is also illustrated in
The two output streams are then joined 1219, with one bit from each stream providing the two bits of each output symbol. The 2048 symbols created this way are then divided into 16 segments of 64 symbols each (See 1221 on
Modulation of the data is performed symbol by symbol under transmit clock timing. This requires that frame data sections be ready for transmission prior to the time that the first symbol of the relevant section is required by the modulator. The first fast frame and the normal data frame data must be ready at the beginning of the frame 501 (
Turning now to
Two different implementations of the localcaster may be realized. In one, the localcast transmitter provides a local, one-way, data broadcast to one or more nearby mobile devices. This broadcast can either replicate one or two on-air channels, provide one or two local-content channels, or a combination of the two. When operating in these modes, the data format and speed is identical to that on the on-air channels. The speed may be configured to be higher in a special application mode, depending on the desired range.
The second localcaster implementation provides a local 2-way data communication ability, which provides for the above-described 1-way mode of broadcast as well as an application mode by which data may be transmitted from the localcaster to the watch or mobile device, and also from the device to the localcaster. This mode, also called broadcast simulation mode, provides for the application-specific determination of two-way data traffic based on traditional handshaking techniques.
In one embodiment, as described more fully below, the localcast transmitter includes a USB interface to a PC or similar device, a control function, two encoders, a packet assembler, an FCC Part 15 direct FM modulator, and an antenna. With the exception of the antenna and a discrete analog filter, these components may be implemented in a monolithic standard-cell ASIC. Accordingly, in one embodiment, the localcast transmitter may be comprised of circuit elements such as an ASIC, filter network, crystal, and antenna, and one or more connectors.
The interface 401 connects the localcast transmitter to its data source. The interface 401 may be implemented with any number of standard interface protocols, such as, but not limited to USB, RS-232, or IEEE-1394. In one embodiment, this is implemented as an IP block which is combined into a localcaster IC. The data source transmits packets of data over this link. In one embodiment, these packets contain 64 bytes of data, and in alternate embodiments, the packets transferred may be 68 or 132 bytes long, including 4 bytes of header information. The exact formatting of this link depends upon the IP characteristics.
The control function 403 collects the transmit data packets from the data source, and performs handshaking. It sets the desired transmission frequency, mode and signal power.
The encoding function 405 (which includes a system information encoder and an optional data encoder) formats the data for transmission as baseband (audio) samples. It has a convolutional encoder for the system information block, and an optional convolutional encoder for the packet data. Upon collecting the packet from the USB, the localcast transmitter 105 processes it via a data encoder. The packet data portion of this encoder is identical to the data encoder in the subcarrier generator 103, except that data whitening uses a fixed pattern, unrelated to the packet number. This process generates 128 bytes of encoded data from the 64 bytes of raw input data. In the case of the “turbo” or high-speed, short distance mode, this encoding is bypassed as shown in encoding function 405, and 128 unencoded bytes are passed directly to the modulator function.
The processing logic 407 adds correlation information for synchronization (described below), and in one embodiment, interleaves the encoded system information and data into segments to protect against noise. The resulting bit stream is then converted to baseband audio samples and the result passed to the modulator.
The direct FM modulator 409 takes the audio samples provided by the processing section and generates the FM frequency output. The antenna 411 for the localcast transmitter or transceiver can either be a loop or a dipole, depending upon the form factor required.
A special case arises in broadcast simulation mode. First, the localcast data payload must be adjusted to match the payload size of broadcast packets. In one embodiment, the localcast 64 byte-payload must be adjusted to match the 128 byte broadcast packet size. This is done by splitting broadcast packets into two localcast packets prior to transmission, and reassembling the packets in the transceiver firmware. Second, broadcast packet numbers are associated with the local mode packets by encoding them into the localcast header. These packet numbers are used by the transceiver firmware to allow the mobile devices' microprocessor to retrieve locally broadcast packets transparently to higher-level software.
Data Transmission Format
What follows is a discussion, in conjunction with
Data is transmitted and received in the communication system on two types of channel: A broadcast channel (i.e., in broadcast mode) (See
A frame is the basic partition in a data stream. One sample frame format 501 is shown in
A packet is the smallest retrievable unit in a frame, including, in one embodiment, 64 bytes of information. In this application there are preferably 2560 packets in each broadcast frame. In another embodiment, 128 bytes of information may be used in a packet, and each packet broadcast frame will contain 1280 packets. Certain of the packets in a frame may be designated as fast packets. These packets are processed and transmitted with less latency than normal packets. In one described implementation, there are 512 fast packets and 2048 normal packets in each broadcast frame. In this embodiment, packets 0-2047 are “normal packets,” and packets 2048-2559 are “fast” packets. In an alternate implementation, there are 256 fast packets and 1024 normal packets in each broadcast frame, with packets 0-1023 being “normal packets” and packets 1024-1280 being “fast packets.” Packet 0 is a system packet and contains the frame number, time, and other housekeeping information, such as roaming local channel frequencies. Local channel packets may contain a header of 20 bytes to allow local data to be transferred without pre-arrangement, as well as to allow variable sizing of Local frames.
In the Broadcast stream, packets are comprised of 8 segments at the physical level. As shown in
In one embodiment, a physical frame may be composed of 20,480 (8*2560) segments. Each segment is composed of partial data from one of the 2560 packets, and a 4 symbol header. At the physical level, packet data is encoded so that one symbol represents one bit (with redundancy), and these symbols are then distributed among 8 segments, which are separated in time. The segments that make up normal packets are distributed evenly throughout the frame. Segments for fast packets are distributed evenly through a quarter of a frame, also known as a sub-frame. For the purposes of timing recovery and synchronization, each segment has a header of four raw (unencoded) symbols so that each symbol represents 2 bits (see
As previously mentioned, and shown on
The broadcast mode involves the simplex transfer of information from one or more broadcast transmitters to one or more watches. FM subcarrier modulation is employed to transmit the information over commercial FM stations. The watches 101, 121 receive this FM subcarrier signal via an antenna embedded in the watchband, demodulate and parse the received data and pass the information to the controlling MCU.
Localcast and Peer-to-Peer Modes
The local mode is divided into two modes, a localcast mode and a peer-to-peer mode. The modes share a common transmission format. Direct FM modulation is employed to transmit the information over locally-unused FM frequencies. The watches receive and transmit this FM signal via an antenna embedded in the watchband, demodulate and parse the received data and pass the information to the MCU.
The Localcast (or local broadcast) mode represents either a 1 or 2-way transmission from the localcast transmitter attached to a PC or other high-level controller, to a watch or mobile device. The area over which the local broadcast is transmitted is small as compared to the broadcast mode transmissions. Data transmitted in the localcast mode may be either a local replication of broadcast mode data, or local content in the same format, or application data sent via special application-layer protocols. The Peer-to-Peer mode is an inherently bi-directional, half-duplex link in which the channel switches (or “ping-pongs”) between two participating watches.
In one embodiment of both localcast and peer-peer modes, the local data mode communicates in packets using direct FSK modulation. This uses the same ½-rate convolutional encoding as the main channel. Localcast communication is half-duplex, and uses a shared FM station frequency. In any given metropolitan area, a subset of the FM broadcast frequencies will be unused and therefore available for FCC Part 15 communication. A list of these frequencies might be disseminated in the broadcast mode or even in localcast mode from a PC-connected localcaster. In any event, the MCU provides the transceiver with the selected station frequencies. Note that some local channel operations preclude main channel operations. Conflicts between local and broadcast operation are resolved in favor of the local mode task.
Unlike the broadcast mode, packets in the local mode are 64 bytes, not 128—this is partially due to FCC Part 15 cycle timing, and partially due to the desire to keep packet cycle times short enough to allow real-time duplex applications, such as speech.
Typically, upon MCU command, the transceiver tests an MCU-selected station for main channel signal (and the cadence of that signal), and for the presence of a subcarrier signal. The first part of local discovery is to use a provided station list to scan the FM band and categorize the available frequencies according to observed usage. To do this, received signal strength (RSSI) is filtered and digitized with a bandwidth of perhaps one kilohertz. Possible results include an active FM station, a local channel transmission, or an empty channel. The watch will be capable of storing tracking information on all frequencies available to it, simultaneously. An active FM station would appear ideally as an unvarying signal, or with significant multipath, as a varying RSSI uncorrelated with our localcast format. If an appropriate subcarrier signal is detectable on the station, this will also be reported. A local channel transmission would appear as a particularly steady RSSI, serrated with a much lower RSSI corresponding to the inter-packet power-off intervals of the localcast format. The transceiver will report information on the cadence found, but final decisions about type of transmission should be done at the data level by the MCU. Finally, an empty channel would have continuously low RSSI.
Note that the RSSI detection can occur with signals much too weak to reliably demodulate, and will also allow rapid analysis of the FM spectrum for local operation. This allows detection of watches engaged in communication, where one of them is outside of normal range. The RSSI analysis also yields the approximate cycle timing of the received exchanges. Thus, RSSI temporal analysis will yield a list of active and/or empty localcast channels. This result will be reported back to the MCU for further commands.
Upon command from the MCU, the transceiver begins beaconing or acquires one of the active channels. In the latter case, the transceiver captures a packet from the FM channel. It then determines the precise timing of the selected localcast signal. This is done by receiving and analyzing the specially constructed correlation sequences, which provide both instantaneous symbol timing and an estimate of inter-device clock drift. Once timing information has been extracted, the transceiver captures the data in the following packet and reports this data to the MCU. Presumably, the contents of this packet are sufficient for the MCU to take subsequent action, which could be some sort of handshake reply, a command to begin retrieving data, a command to analyze another channel, or a command to send a beacon on an empty channel.
In a peer-to-peer connection, the initiator is treated as the clock master. The other participant slaves its transmit clock to the clock derived from the received data. This allows the beaconing peer to immediately process the data in the first response packet, without a timing analysis phase.
After any necessary handshaking is completed, the MCU may command the transceiver to enter one of several communication modes, with transmit and receive packets being passed to and from the MCU. This mode continues until otherwise commanded. Loss of signal is reported to the MCU as a suddenly poor signal quality value. The MCU may end the communication mode at this or any other interpacket time.
Packets to be transmitted are stored by the MCU in the DSP's memory space in structures called transmit blocks. These blocks also contain control information, such as the FM frequency to use. Prior to transmission, the DSP pre-filters the data and converts it to the transmit samples needed by the RTD. The localcast physical layer packet structure is also added at this time. In one implementation, the 512-bit localcast packet becomes 2304 bytes of signal samples when presented to the RTD.
The DSP controls the timing of transmission, according to information recovered when the local connection was established, and, in certain duplex cases, according to the timing of the last local data received.
In the localcast mode, the RTD records an entire cycle time of localcast data. The DSP then uses the associated RSSI information to locate the localcast packet samples. Using the correlation sequences in the beginning and end of each localcast packet, the fine timing of the other localcast device is determined, and this information stored. The MCU may now begin to receive or transmit on the acquired channel.
Although the preceding description describes various embodiments of the system, the invention is not limited to such embodiment, but rather covers all modifications, alternatives, and equivalents that fall within the spirit and scope of the following claims.